The Fest 13 (Day 1) - Live in Gainesville (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Fest 13 (Day 1)

Live in Gainesville (2014)

live show

It's hard to believe, but this was my first time attending Fest. I lived in Gainesville in the early 90’s and have, for the most part, stuck around Florida since then. But this year was the first opportunity I had to make the trip back up for the three-day event. After making a lot of last minute preparations, at 5am on Oct 31, I was on the road to Gainesville.

By the time I arrived, registration at the Holiday Inn had been underway for almost an hour. The line for general registration wrapped completely around the building and was starting to snake down University Ave. Enterprising punks were pushing around coolers with beer, as well as selling slices of pizza. The registration line ended in the Fest Flea Market on the second floor, where various labels and vendors had tables set up. One attendee from New Jersey told me, after picking up her wristband, that she had been waiting for nearly four hours. After spending some time milling about the tables (and picking up a t-shirt and high five from Toby of Red Scare), it was time to head out for my first music of the weekend.

Mother’s Pub is just a short walk from Holiday Inn, and I headed over there to meet up with Mr. and Mrs. Copy Editor Adam, grab my first beer, and settle in for some acoustic Kepi Ghoulie. He was the first of several acoustic acts playing at Mother’s that day. The small crowd (perhaps 50 or so people) sang along with Kepi, with him asking for requests throughout. As he noticed a photographer taking pictures of him, Kepi kicked the microphone stand out in front of the crowd so she could take some pictures, and then back again, without ever stopping the song. Zock from Astpai, playing under the name Work Weak, played his set borrowing a guitar from fellow performer Chris Cresswell of The Flatliners. Ty Vaughn from Broadway Calls also played a brief set, checking his phone after almost every song.

Midway through Vaughn’s set, I headed downtown to Bo Diddley Plaza to catch the official final set by Mixtapes. The band and fans were equally into it, with the band informing the crowd early on that it was an emotional moment for them. Bassist/vocalist Maura Weaver’s feelings were evident on her face during the final two songs, a combination of tears and smiles. After the set, the entire band was all smiles, with guitarist/vocalist Ryan Rockwell letting slip about their Maps-only “secret show” at 1982 the next afternoon. After a quick changeover, Carobdonale IL’s The Copyrights were upon the Gainesville crowd. There was almost zero talk from the quartet, instead focusing on their quick blasts of pop-punk, with the setlist focusing mostly on the band’s last three full-length releases. As it was Halloween, many people were dressed in costume, and it should be noted that Ned Flanders is a punk.

Last February, I saw The Slow Death open for Off With Their Heads in Miami and was instantly hooked. I made sure to be at The Atlantic and up front for their set on Friday evening. The band didn’t disappoint, turning in what would be one of my favorite sets of the weekend. Vocalist Jesse “Pretty Boy” Thorson, unencumbered by a guitar, drank everything he could onstage while belting out “Dirty Jokes,” “A Little Less Ugly,” and “I Need a Drink.” Robbie Smartwood, from the aforementioned OWTH, played bass with band members chiding him about “where all that Epitaph money went.” Also, guitarist Jonny C. was outed as narc, with special t-shirts made for Fest to prove it. After their set, I was told that this was the first time that lineup had ever played together.

As the day had been long (I was up at 4am that morning after a full work week), I headed over to 8 Seconds to see what would be my final band of the night, Paint It Black. The venue was, in a word, PACKED. You could feel the heat blasting out of the open doors as volunteers checked wristbands for entry. Squeezing inside, you could see the venue was absolutely jammed full of people, with easily over 1000 people eagerly awaiting their Philly hardcore heroes. Dr. Dan and Co. didn’t disappoint, with the band tearing through “Pink Slip” and “Headfirst.” The microphone was passed around amongst the fans at the front, and the members of PiB looked positively thrilled to be there. The crowd was just as thrilled to have them.

Nearing 10pm, I decided my first day at Fest was over. I needed to check in to my hotel, get a shower, and some pizza. Saturday promised to be a long day, and I had Descendents to look forward to.